Pitcher drinks make for easy entertaining. By making one large batch, you save yourself time and effort from having to handcraft each drink individually, and you can spend more time with your guests. Even better, if you make the pitcher nonalcoholic, guests can add their own spirits and can also manage the amount of alcohol they choose to consume.
Lemonade is a natural choice for a pitcher drink, and there is nothing wrong with plain lemonade as a mixer. However, adding a twist to the traditional preparation creates a unique cocktail experience and perhaps, one better suited to the inherent flavors of the base spirit.
I’m a big fan of bourbon during the summer, so I decided to take lemonade and to make an even better pitcher drink. Instead of regular sugar, I substituted brown sugar, which has just a bit of molasses left in it, a flavor that marries well with the vanilla and caramel notes in most bourbons. Second, I steeped fresh rosemary sprigs in the lemonade to create a more complex overall flavor profile. The result is a rich, refreshing lemonade that is easy to prepare and that also makes an impressive cocktail.
With a drink like this, choose a bourbon on the sweeter side, like Makers Mark or Buffalo Trace, to take full advantage of the rosemary and brown sugar flavors. A big, spicy bourbon may make this drink a little too one-dimensional. Garnish each drink with a fresh rosemary sprig for extra flair and a nice aromatic addition to the drink.
Brown Sugar Rosemary Lemonade
Makes one pitcher of lemonade, add bourbon to taste (2 oz recommended)
- 8 cups water
- 10 to 12 fresh rosemary sprigs, plus additional sprigs for garnish
- 1 ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup lemon juice
- In a large saucepan, combine water and rosemary sprigs over medium high heat until the water begins to bubble.
- Remove pan from stove, cover and steep rosemary sprigs 45 to 60 minutes.
- Remove rosemary sprigs.
- Add brown sugar to pan, return pan to medium heat and stir until dissolved.
- Remove pan from heat, stir in lemon juice.
- Add to pitcher and refrigerate until needed.
- Add ice to pitcher before serving.
Bourbon Brown Sugar Lemonade Cocktail
- 2 ounces bourbon (Makers Mark or Buffalo Trace)
- Rosemary Brown Sugar Lemonade to top
- Add bourbon to a double rocks glass.
- Add ice.
- Top with Brown Sugar Rosemary Lemonade
- Garnish with a rosemary sprig and serve.